Friday, October 24, 2008

Video Box Break and Review: 1999 Upper Deck PowerDeck

This waxbox sent to me by Russ from The House of Cardboard for winning the baseball card bloggers fantasy league. So far, he's the sole person to send me my winnings.

One box of 1999 Upper Deck PowerDeck
24 packs per box, two paper cards (a.k.a. "Auxiliaries") plus one baseball card sized CD-ROM per pack.

The Video

The Pulls

Base Set
CD-ROMS: 18 of 25 (72.00%)

Auxiliaries: 24 of 25 (96.00%)
13 Doubles
3 Triples
2 Quads

1 Season to Remember (One CD-Rom, packaged as a chiptopper) M. McGwire
4 Powerful Moments (Six CD-Roms, 1:7) S.Sosa, C. Ripken, Jr., K. Griffey, Jr., A-ROD
1 Time Capsule (Six CD-Roms, 1:23) K. Griffey, Jr.

3 Powerful Moments (Six Cards, 1:7) D. Jeter, A-Rod (2)
1 Time Capsule (Six cards, 1:23) NOE-MAH!!!

Parallels: NONE

Autogamers: NONE

The Review

1999 Upper Deck PowerDeck was one of the more, shall we say, unique baseball card sets ever made. PowerDeck is a product that revolves not around baseball cards, but baseball CD-ROMs. Each three "card" pack contained two regular baseball cards (or "Auxiliaries" as UD calls them here) and a CD-ROM die-cut to the size of a standard-sized trading card.

The concept of merging the traditional, humble baseball card, with the technology of the day, was nothing new. In 1962 and again in '64, Columbia Records in association with the makers of Milk Duds candy, issued a set called Auravsion which featured the images of baseball players pressed onto 33 1/3 RPM records. When placed on a turntable, each Auravision "card" played a brief interview with the subject. Earlier in the 90s, both Topps and Donruss experimented with CD-ROM-based trading card products of their own (Cybr Cards and VxP, respectively). And in a way, Topps' new social networking website Topps Town continues this convergence of technology and cardboard.

'99 PowerDeck was not Upper Deck's first experiment with a cyber-savvy trading card. A year earlier it randomly inserted into specially marked packs of 1998 Series One an audio CD die-cut to the size of a trading card. Collectors who received this "card" could then mount it onto a special tray that was packed as a chiptopper into each waxbox, insert the tray into any CD player, and hear a five-minute interview of UD spokesjock Ken Griffey, Jr.

By 1999 the technology had advanced enough to include video as well as audio onto these CD-ROMs and UD felt the time was right for a stand-alone PowerDeck product.

The base set consisted of only 25 CD-ROMs (one for each player), and each CD-ROM corresponds with a paper-based Auxiliary (i.e. Card and CD-ROM #1 in both sets is Ken Griffey, Jr.; #2 is Mark McGwire; and so on). The same is true for each of the three different insert sets.

Each CD-ROM has game clips, sounds, photos, and sortable career stats of the featured players -- which in 1999 (provided you had a Pentium-based rig with 133MHz, 12MB of RAM, a 4X CD-ROM drive and a Sound Blaster compatible sound card) was cutting edge. Popping a few of these into my laptop, it seems almost Precambrian.

The PowerDeck concept never really caught on, although the suggested retail price of $5/pack may have had a little something to do with it's failure. And although a second series of PowerDecks was released in 2000, UD has yet to issue another.

The Bottom Line

Collation was par-for-the-course with most late 90s UD products -- that is, dreadful. I received two copies of the same Alex Rodriguez Powerful Moments Auxiliary insert, and four copies each of Mo Vaughn and Chipper Jones' Auxiliary base cards.

If you're looking for something different to bust, and don't want to spend a lot of money, then try a box of 1999 Upper Deck PowerDeck. You can bust worse.

Box Rating: 2 Gumsticks (out of five)
Product Rating: 2 1/2 Gumsticks (out of five)


sruchris said...

What, no love for the Topps Sports Talk? These were all the rage with my friends and I back in 1989.

Tom the Ripper said...

Chris busting out the journalism on that ass!

Chris Harris said...

Pure fake baseball card Gonzo journalism. DO IT NOW!